Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal leads his team’s training session in Lagos, Portugal, last month.  Photograph: Koen van Weel  / EPA

The Dutch have a painful past in the World Cup, having lost three finals

Japan players huddle during a send-off ceremony for the World Cup  in Tokyo on May 25th.  Photograph: Toru Hanai / Reuters

It was a disappointing debut at France ‘98, with three defeats, but there has been progress since

 Vicente del Bosque talks with his Spanish players during a training session   at Las Rozas Sports City in Madrid, Spain, last month. Photograph: Alberto Martin / EPA

Once the perennial under-achievers, all that changed at Euro 2008 and they haven't looked back since

 Yaya Toure may be prone to a bit of a strop off the pitch but on it he’s the real deal. Photograph:  Nick Potts/PA Wire

It could well be a case of third time lucky for the Ivorians after deathly draws in 2006 and 2010

Costa Rica’s first trip to the World Cup in 1990 was the most successful of their three to date

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, El Pistolero, love him or hate, he’s some player.  Photograph: Enrique Castro-Mendivil / Reuters

Hosts of the first World Cup, the Uruguayans were also the first country to lift the trophy in 1930

Australia’s Tim Cahill holds the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.  Photograph: Jason Reed / Reuters

By far the most inexperienced side in the group, Australia are embarking on just their fourth campaign

Greece’s Kostas Mitroglou (r), Kostas Manolas (c) and Georgios Samaras (l) training  in Athens last month.  Photograph: Yorgos Karahalis / Reuters

It’s 10 years since Greece angered the footballing gods by winning Euro 2004 in admirably agricultural fashion

Oribe Peralta (left) will be a key player for  Mexico in Brazil.  Photograph: Henry Romero / Reuters

El Tri, it seems fair to say, like their home comforts, having reached the quarter-finals when hosting in 1970 and 1986.

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